s it pertains to a certain kind of irreverent comedy being produced in Hollywood, Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions is basically The Last of the Mohicans. It’s not so much that they don’t make them like they used to, but because of cultural pressures, they don’t really make them anymore, well, period. This is just one of the many reasons why the new Netflix comedy The Wrong Missy (produced by REBELLER Hall-of-Famer Allen Covert, as well as Kevin Grady, Judit Maull and Adam Sandler) is such a welcome reprieve in these trying times. Similar to Spade’s previous Happy Madison Netflix movies, Father of The Year (also directed by Missy director Tyler Spindel) and The Do-Over, Missy knows its audience and just wants to make fans of a nearly extinct type of comedy laugh with some classic escapist fun.
The plot of Missy is straightforward screwball, a throwback to the “(insert antagonist here) from hell” genre. This time, Spade plays the straight man as Tim Morris, a Portland sales executive who accidentally invites a previous nightmare blind date of his, Melissa “Missy” (Lauren Lapkus), to his annual Hawaii corporate retreat instead of the intended Melissa (Molly Sims), former Miss Maryland. Hilarity ensues as Tim tries (and fails miserably) to keep Missy away from his new tough-guy boss Geoff Pierson (Jack Winstone), who is on the cusp of giving either Tim or his stone-cold killer co-worker Jess (Jackie Sandler) a promotion. He’s also trying to keep her away from his former fiancé Julia (Sarah Chalke); Julia’s new squeeze Ric (Chris Witaske), another one of Tim’s co-workers; and his surveillance-loving best friend Nate (Nick Swardson), the director of human resources. During the retreat, Tim realizes that the zany Missy may not be so bad after all, and yeah, you get the gist. It’s all pretty sweet and harmless.
No one is reinventing the wheel here, and you know what? That’s just fine! In fact, these days, it’s more than fine. It’s necessary. There is real value in movies like Missy. Irreverent comedy can be incredibly cathartic. There’s something genuinely refreshing about watching The Wrong Missy in 2020, when you just know some humorless, joyless scolds out there are frothing at the mouth to hit free-speech absolutist and culture warrior Rob Schneider (in Missy, he plays a Hawaiian version of Robert Shaw’s iconic Quint character from Jaws) with another charge of “racism” or “cultural appropriation.” In other words, Missy has everything you could want in a raunchy Romantic Comedy (especially in the middle of a pandemic).
So what works here? Well, for starters, a star is born with Lauren Lapkus, who is absolutely hilarious as the alternately disturbed and adorable title character. For your typical Happy Madison fan, it’s also a real treat to see regular players Swardson and Schneider back in action in the exact kind of roles in which they have always excelled. As Rich (“Resume!”), Chris Witaske is also a standout, hysterical as the kind of classic archetypical douchebro that we don’t see too often in movies anymore. To top things off, the gorgeous Hawaii location doesn’t hurt to look at and Spade, as usual, brings it.
Not surprisingly, most establishment critics don’t love the movie (The Wrong Missy currently holds a 36% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes), finding the gags and hijinks, which come fast and often, to be crass, immature, lazy or some combination thereof. Here’s the thing: Happy Madison, much like Tyler Perry Studios, doesn’t make movies for critics (Spade’s other Netflix movies, Father of the Year and The Do Over, received a 0% and a 9% on Rotten Tomatoes, respectively) or most of Hollywood. It never has. Heck, their refusal to comply with a culture that would only be too happy to eliminate their existence if not for their being grandfathered in is their whole business model.
For more than 20 years, Happy Madison has ignored its condescending, hoity-toity detractors and made movies for who really matters — the actual audience! From a business perspective, Netflix is actually very savvy for getting this (the market is indisputably there; Missy quickly rose to the top of the Netflix’s top 10 list upon its release).
Truth be told, we could use a lot more movies in the spirit of those released by Happy Madison. The pompous, self-satisfying gobbledygook market is already covered … and then some. Some may consider movies like Grandma’s Boy (I wasn’t kidding when I said it’s an American classic that belongs in the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress), Don’t Mess With The Zohan (classic), and That’s My Boy (also classic) to be juvenile, lowbrow and lacking respect, but so what? Sometimes we need silly. Not everything needs to be so earnest or “prestige” or “important.” Especially when you have been trapped at home for two consecutive months and the walls are closing in and reality is collapsing all around you.
As Happy Madison continues to rebel simply by existing and not complying with the absurd demands that political correctness demands of art, it proves that irreverent comedies aren’t dead just yet. And for that I am truly grateful.
Dave Spielman is a writer for REBELLER.